HC Deb 07 May 1980 vol 984 cc271-2
14. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland "if he will make a statement on the unemployment situation in Scotland; and when he expects the numbers of unemployed to decline.

Mr. Younger

The present very high level of unemployment reflects a number of factors which were already evident in the situation we inherited a year ago, notably growing weaknesses in our industrial performance and a rising level of wage settlements. A permanent improvement in the employment situation turns upon the establishment of a sound economy, and it is to this end that our policies are directed.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the recent report of the industrial trend survey, undertaken by the CBI, is deeply pessimistic on almost every ground? Does not he accept that it is pessimistic about investment, the number of firms working at under capacity and so on? Does he not further recognise that, given that there are over 200,000 unemployed in Scotland and only 20,000 notified vacancies, 11 men are chasing every job? Does he agree with his hon. Friend when he said that that trend is expected to improve within the next year?

Mr. Younger

I share the hon. Gentleman's concern about all the figures that he mentioned. I have studied them carefully. They are sombre figures that should be considered carefully. With respect, may I ask him to remember that those figures are the result of policies that have been maintained for many years and have weakened British industry. Perhaps he and his hon. Friends could do something to discourage next week's ill-fated day of action. That day of action has no relevance, and will probably weaken still further some of the small firms, which Labour policies sought for so long to destroy. Perhaps he will persuade Labour authorities to ease rate increases. That might do more to save unemployment than all the talking he may do.

Mr. Sproat

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that there has been no slippage in the programme of dispersal of Civil Service jobs to Scotland? Will he include confirmation about the number of jobs affected, and the time of dispersal?

Mr. Younger

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has shown continuing interest in this subject. Our policy is perfectly clear, and is proceeding on course.

Mr. Harry Ewing

If the Secretary of State is so concerned about jobs in Scotland—he has claimed that rate increases lead to reductions in the number of jobs—will he say what is causing a reduction in the number of white collar jobs, particularly in New St. Andrews House? How far has he gone along the road to paying off the 1,400 civil servants under his control? Is not he committed to dismiss those civil servants during his period of office?

Mr. Younger

The hon. Gentleman should know better than any other hon. Member that redundancies have arisen as a result of the profligate overspending that he indulged in for five long years. He planned to spend all that extra money without giving a thought as to where it would come from. We are trying to put that right. I am looking in vain to see any sign of a blush on the hon. Gentleman's face.